U.S. judge to decide whether Epstein companion Ghislaine Maxwell deserves bail

NEW YORK, July 14 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to grant bail to Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's longtime associate, who has been charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan is set to preside over the arraignment of Maxwell, who prosecutors accused of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls from 1994 to 1997, and lying about her role in depositions in 2016.

Maxwell, 58, is expected to plead not guilty to six criminal charges, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts, and two for perjury.

She has been held since July 6 at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a Brooklyn jail, and is expected to appear by video conference at the arraignment, scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

Maxwell was arrested on July 2 in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 156-acre (63 hectares) property she bought last December in an all-cash transaction.

Her lawyers on Friday proposed a bail package including a $5 million bond, secured by six co-signers and $3.75 million of property in Britain, and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

They said Maxwell has always denied involvement in illegal conduct related to Epstein, and that bail was justified because she might contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the Brooklyn jail.

Prosecutors on Monday called Maxwell an "extreme" flight risk reflecting her wealth, multiple citizenships - American, French and British - and prior success in evading capture, and said she should remain detained.

Maxwell's lawyers have previewed her possible defenses.

These include that her alleged misconduct occurred long ago and would be hard to prosecute, and that she was shielded by Epstein's 2007 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Miami, which covered "any potential co-conspirators."

Epstein was charged last July with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He hanged himself last Aug. 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham)